This is my sermon text for January 24th. It is based on the Narrative Lectionary text for the day, Mark 5:21-43. My thanks go out to Bishop Craig Satterlee of the North West Lower Michigan Synod for the inspiration from his video, and prayers for his recovery.
Just as I was getting ready to work on this message on Friday, I scanned Facebook, and saw a post from a friend who I went to seminary with in Gettysburg. He is serving a church not too far from my hometown, and the post was a video from his Bishop, called “Waiting for Ananias.” I looked down at my Ananias, sleeping at my feet, and thought, what did you do now?
Bishop Satterlee’s message was about how he is dealing with his vision problems. He is legally blind but has enough sight in one eye to be able to read, use the computer and many other things. Or he did until recently; his vision in that eye has become compromised. His video to his synod explains what is going on, and says that he is waiting on Ananias, the disciple who cured Paul’s blindness, but doesn’t know if or when his cure will come.
I was relieved my Ananias hadn’t done anything wrong, but as I listened to Bishop Satterlee talk about waiting to be healed made me think about today’s lesson.
Bishop Satterlee said that we are all waiting for Ananias, but we don’t know that Ananias is coming. He said that we are hoping things will get better. We hope that an Ananias will come for us individually, or for us as a church, and this person will make everything better.
Bishop Satterlee reminds us that Christ is already with us. For both Jairus and the woman, fortunately, Christ was actually there for them. And in their desperation, they threw themselves at him, and bared their souls.
Jairus was desperate because his daughter was dying and he could do nothing about it. The woman had been bleeding for twelve years, and was desperate to be healed and made whole. These two come to Jesus, begging for mercy with nothing to hide. From his knees, Jairus pours out his heart. The woman confesses everything when Jesus discovers her stealing her healing. They both open their whole lives to Jesus, bearing their souls.
That is how we should be as we wait for our Ananias, our healing, our mercy, our answered prayer. And we do, even if we don’t realize that we do.
We all truly meet Christ with our souls laid bare, even though we don’t admit it, or realize it. We come to Jesus, with whatever our afflictions or ailments are, with whatever demons or distractions haunt us, and with nothing to offer. God knows all of our faults and all of our failings. We only hide them from others, and sometimes, from ourselves.
“Do not fear; only believe.” That is what Jesus tells Jairus.
Jesus meets us with our souls and lives exposed to him. He meets us there in the same way, because he meets us at the foot of the cross, having given up his life for us.
He meets us there having been rejected and turned upon by the very people who were chosen to be God’s beloved people. He meets us there having been turned in by one of those whom he sent out to share his Good News. He meets us there denied by the one who recognized Jesus was the Messiah and who promised to give up his life for Jesus, but who said he did not know who Jesus was. He meets us there, at the bottom of our lives and at the bottom of his life, where he has given all for us, and he tells us that we are his.
He took the worst of our world, gave his life for us to have life; a life forgiven from sin and a life in the kingdom to come.
As we deal with whatever causes us to call and cry for healing, he says, “Do not fear; only believe.”
I have to tell you that I don’t like the healing stories in the Bible because too often they are used to ask the question, “Why them and not me?” with the me being yourself or a loved one. Why do they get to be healed and not me or my loved one? What did they do right, or more often, what have I done wrong? Why won’t God answer my prayers and pleas? Was my belief not strong enough?
Please don’t think that. We don’t have to earn God’s favor. Jesus Christ has suffered, died and was raised for us. We only have to believe and trust.
Now, Ananias may not come from Bishop Satterlee. Coming when called is not a strong suit of my Ananias. Healing doesn’t come for everyone. Our prayers are not always answered, as we want them to be.
It doesn’t mean we are alone. Christ is always with us. God’s love is always with us. In our pain, in our hurt, in our sorrow, and in our darkness, Jesus is with us, and he tells us, “Do not fear; only believe.”
Even as we wait for Ananias.
And I couldn't miss the chance to post a picture of my Ananias, who is waiting for me at home.
Pastor Brian's Page
Pastor Brian Robert Campbell has served at Our Savior's and Emmanuel since August 1, 2011, and began serving Nazareth on December 1, 2015.
Pastor Brian is originally from Saginaw, Michigan. He graduated from Alma College with a B.A. in Business Administration, and worked for the Saginaw Public Schools' Community Education Department for 17 years before answering the call to ministry. He graduated with a M. Div. from the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg in 2011. ONE in Christ Lutheran Parish is his first call.
He is the only child of Robert and Charlotte Campbell, both who have entered the Church Eternal.
He is accompanied in ministry by his faithful bulldogge Ananias, who regularly writes for our newsletter. His articles are archived here.
He is a fan of sports teams from his native Michigan, especially the Tigers and the Lions. But we tolerate him despite that.
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